© THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn
Canada's Curtis Lazar celebrates his goal as Slovakia's Eduard Simun, left and goaltender Samuel Baros, back, look on during first period round robin IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships action against Slovakia in Malmo, Sweden on Monday.
Jonathan Drouin tied the game and Nic Petan got the game-winner late in the third period as Canada posted a comeback 5-3 victory over Slovakia at the world junior championship on Monday.
Petan added an empty net goal in the final minute. Team scoring leader Anthony Mantha had a goal and three assists while Curtis Lazar also scored for Canada (2-0-1).
The result guaranteed Canada one of the top two placings in their preliminary round group heading into the final group stage game Tuesday against the undefeated United States (3-0-0).
David Griger, with two, and Martin Reway scored for Slovakia (1-2-0), which can clinch third place with a win Tuesday over the Czech Republic.
Drouin tied the game at 14:02 of the third period after Mantha beat 16-year-old Erik Cernak behind the Slovak goal and fed it in front.
Canada was on a power play when Petan walked out from the right side and threaded a goal through traffic.
Canada had to battle back from a 3-1 second-period deficit against a Slovak side playing a tight trap and leaning on the power play with the highly skilled unit of Reway, Griger and Milan Kolena for goals.
For the third straight game Canada gave up the first goal, this time after Drouin got a minor and a misconduct for a hit to the head only 10 seconds in. Griger took Jakub Predajniansky’s shot off the end boards and scored into an open side past Zach Fucale, who made his first start in goal.
Drouin did not see the ice again until Canada’s power play at 16:49, but it was Lazar who scored on a one-timer of Mantha’s pass after extended pressure in the Slovak zone at 18:20.
The mostly Canadian crowd of 2,258 at the 5,800-seat Isstadion howled at what they felt was Slovak diving that led to a pair of two-man advantages, both of which produced goals in the second frame.
The first saw Reway score his fourth of the tournament with a quick shot from a Kolena feed, and then Griger get his second of the game into an open side from Reway’s pass.
Canada got one back before the third period as Mantha camped on the doorstep and banged in an Aaron Ekblad rebound at 17:00.
Notes: Forward Charles Hudon was helped off with what looked like a shoulder problem 13 seconds into the third period after a hit into the end boards, but returned later in the period. . . Canada will have defenceman Griffin Reinhart back against the Americans after serving the last of his four-game suspension incurred at last year’s world juniors.